I look back on my life now and recognise that actually my mental illness and emotional deregulation started in my teens. But its full impact hit in me in my thirties, followed by a brief reprieve, then again in my late forties. This journey continues today.
My absolute rock bottom came after a series of events. I had major spine surgery, followed by a head injury, and then workplace stress in a new role. My husband broke his leg playing rugby, his third injury in a row and ended up in hospital with a blood clot in his lung. This all happened within a space of about seven months. It was my husband's blood clot that tipped me, that was the last straw.
The day I completely lost it, I was just setting on the couch. My body just began jerking in places: torso, legs and I was shaking everywhere. I was crying and sobbing uncontrollably; I couldn’t move to get up, I couldn’t speak in any audible sentences. I was home alone to start with, but my best friend and her sister turned up unexpectedly, saw the state of me and proceeded to get medical help. Needless to say, I saw my GP and was referred to CATT (Crisis Assessment Treatment Team). This was my introduction to the mental health system.
I do not have a great memory at all that day. All I know was I was given a prescription for medication and visited by CATT at home for quite a while. They were lovely. I was on sick leave over this time.
It has taken a toll. I have left my job, I've lost interest in most things in my life and barely manage to get out of bed. And if I do, it's to the couch and that is me for the day. None of my normal activities are happening, not even cleaning, which I have always taken pride in. I do manage to cook dinner most days, but only the simplest meals. I’m now struggling with ruminating thoughts of self harm, suicide and weight loss. My weight loss is significant and I am now being monitored for an eating disorder. I have struggled with this a couple of times in my earlier life.
Professionals and family were very concerned, and the decision was made for me to go to hospital. I had embarked on another level within our mental health system. I was in the secure ward for three weeks and then the unsecure ward. It felt like forever. Things did not improve over the next two years - I was in and out of hospital; one stay was three months, sectioned for the most part. My behavior at times bordered on psychotic.
A decision was made by my Community Mental Health Team to move me from the hospital to a day clinic with a Psychologist appointed for therapy. I was in this position for ages; the system for me was floundering. Nobody knew what to do or offer or what to engage me in. I started to feel like burden. Several medications had been tried and they changed my diagnosis to persistent major depression, anxiety, PTSD and an eating disorder. It was at this stage that I felt to be nothing more than the diagnosis, a thorn in their side and at times my family’s.
A couple of years went by with not a lot of progress. I've been in respite a few times and seeing my Doctor once a week. I have a Navigator who calls around once a week to get me out of the house, or just talk. I have tried a couple of times to overdose, and received overnight treatment in ED.
One last thing to try came up; a rehabilitation hospital in another city. I went for 11 months. It was so hard being away from my family and the outcome of my stay was minimal but it at least got me into a routine each day.
I am now active all the time. Unfortunately my emotional de-regulation, ruminating and suicidal ideation are still enacted. I’ve completed a DBT course, I found this very challenging, but by the end, a year on, I have grasped some skills. I’m trying to incorporate these in my daily life. Helpful for a while, a few steps forward.
Life brings about challenges all the time for all of us, but some challenges for me can bring about a crash. I hate it, I was once great at solving problems and bouncing back, but now that’s not the case. It’s so frustrating to be caught up like this.
I've made progress, but things are difficult at home, my marriage is on the line, my father died.
My daughter and grandchildren moved home, her having marital problems, actually there are relationship dynamic problems with a few people I care for. My brother is seriously ill. My wellbeing or lack of it has taken its toll on my family relationships and it hurts, it hurts a lot. My feelings of guilt and shame are immense.
My professional supports are very limited now, my husband no longer supports me during a crisis in any way and we have been discussion separation. I have three adult children and they too are stepping back a little. I can't blame them at all and fully appreciate the stress I cause them. External support services for family are not strong. I’m struggling again to keep my head above water at this point..
My Community Mental Health Team start holding back options, especially for crisis, like respite.
Logically, I cannot blame them; I have had the full array of what they can offer and they are at a loss I guess.
They are stretched to their limit, overloaded with clients and not enough resources, I understand that. But I am now, today and going forward, a little fearful. My relationships in all areas of my life are on shaky ground, my mental health team have clearly expressed withholding respite now and my appointments are further and further apart.
When crisis hits, as it has this week, I have nowhere to go but ED or extreme cases I ring Te Hika or Lifeline and the police are involved. I don't want this for myself; I especially don't want this for family and friends. But I’m still searching for and needing help to find the combination for the lock to this room I’m stuck in.
If the content on this website is distressing or triggering, or, if you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, we have provided in contact details below for you to speak with a professional. If you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call the police immediately on 111.
• NEED TO TALK? Free call or text 1737 any time for support from a trained counsellor (available 24/7)
• LIFELINE: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• SUICIDE CRISIS HELPLINE: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• YOUTHLINE: 0800 376 633
• KIDSLINE: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
•WHATSUP: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• DEPRESSION HELPLINE: 0800 111 757